Seattle fire chief: Sorry for attack on homeless man

Off-duty firefighters face charges after weekend incident

Published:

 

SEATTLE (AP) -- The city's fire chief apologized to the public Monday after the weekend arrest of two off-duty Seattle firefighters suspected of attacking a homeless man at a memorial for fallen firefighters in Pioneer Square.

Fire Chief Gregory Dean said firefighters are supposed to protect the public, "not put them in harm's way."

"On behalf of the men and women of the Seattle Fire Department, I apologize for the violence that occurred in Pioneer Square this weekend," Dean said. "The action these two firefighters are accused of is not representative of the conduct we expect of Seattle firefighters."

The two off-duty firefighters, Scott Bullene and Robert Howell, were walking with Mia Jarvinen of Seattle when they saw a homeless man sleeping at the memorial. Jarvinen, 37, began yelling and kicking the man, police said. Bullene and Howell joined the attack, apparently using a stick to hit the homeless man, who stabbed Bullene in an attempt to defend himself, according to authorities.

Bullene was taken to a hospital with wounds that were not life-threatening.

Police said it appeared the trio was drunk when the attack happened.

According to the police report, the firefighters and Jarvinen initially claimed to have been victims of an unprovoked attack. They claimed a man in a hooded sweatshirt attacked them for no reason, the Seattle Times reported.

A King County judge set Jarvinen's bail at $20,000 Monday. Charging documents say she's Bullene's girlfriend. She's being held for investigation of fourth-degree assault.

An attorney for Jarvinen denied the allegations at the court hearing Monday. She declined to appear in court.

The two firefighters have not made a court appearance. They are on disability leave, Dean said. Once they return from disability, they will be placed in administrative leave while the investigation concludes.